Though director Sam Taylor-Johnson’s elegant touch was one of the few aspects of Fifty Shades of Grey that actually worked, rumor has it that the helmer will not be returning for sequels Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, now that it’s come to light that her working relationship with book author E.L. James must have felt something like a three-month visit to Christian’s Red Room of Pain.
According to THR, though Taylor-Johnson is technically contracted for the already greenlit follow-up (she recently told E!, “I’m signed on. Let’s see how this one goes first.”), there have been “no discussions” about the helmer stepping back behind the camera.
Blame James. The author, who was given creative control of the production when she sold the film rights to Universal, apparently made Taylor-Johnson’s life a living hell, clashing with her on everything from the color of a particular dress to the last word in the film (James insisted that, more in line with her novel, it be “stop,” while Taylor-Johnson favored “red,” a smarter reference to a sexytime safeword used by the characters). “She will not allow herself to be rewritten, even if it’s ‘and’ or ‘but,'” a source claimed. Only Universal chairman Donna Langley was able to persuade James to back down from some battles.
“It was difficult, I’m not going to lie,” Taylor-Johnson told Porter Magazine, saying:
“We definitely fought, but they were creative fights, and we would resolve them. We would have proper on-set ‘barneys,’ and I’m not confrontational, but it was about finding a way between the two of us, satisfying her vision of what she’d written as well as my need to visualize this person onscreen, but, you know, we got there. I think both of us felt it was an incredibly painful process.”
An anonymous source, speaking to the trades, put things a little more bluntly. “She was given a lot of power, and she used every opportunity to flex that power,” the source said. “It was really challenging to control EL’s — I don’t want to say ‘crazy’ but — impulsive instincts.”
Though stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan almost always sided with Taylor-Johnson’s vision for the film over James’ take, the contract that the author signed really gave James the ability to twist the director’s arm in order to better serve her own ideas for the adaptation. Taylor-Johnson recently noted that she had yet to be congratulated by James on the final cut on the movie.
Having seen Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s pretty obvious where the director submitted to James (namely, some of the exchanges between Christian and Anastasia feel so awfully porny that they could only have made the final cut if someone was fighting for them), and the film would have likely been much better had James been frog-marched off set. Alas, Universal signed the paperwork, so now the trilogy directors (assuming Taylor-Johnson jumps ship) are James’ to punish however she chooses.
The film opens this Friday. If you’re considering seeing it, there are much better options at the cinema – or you can donate the price of your ticket to #50DollarsNot50Shades, a domestic violence campaign being sponsored by the National Center on Sexual Violence. The organization states that most women in abusive relationships “don’t end up like Anastasia; they often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for years or dead.”
“The money you would have spent on movie tickets and a baby-sitter or movie tickets, popcorn and drinks will go towards serving victims of abusive relationships like the one glamorized in the 50 Shades series,” the campaign’s Facebook page reads. “Hollywood doesn’t need your money; abused women do.”
Source: The Playlist